3-on-3: Wizards at Hornets: The Start of Newer Traditions, Kind Of (But Not Quite Yet)
Basketball, basketball, basketball, trades, basketball… Guess what? The Wizards actually have a game tonight, the third of their road trip against the Hornets in the Big Easy. Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf? Gone. Nene and Brian Cook? Evidently on the way. You can find your TAI Nene-McGee trade analysis here, and some more numbers behind Nene and new teammate Kevin Seraphin here. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we have Mason Ginsberg (@WhoDatHornet88) of the ESPN TrueHoop Hornets blog Hornets 247.com, along with TAI’s Sam Permutt (@sammyvert) and Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it). NOTE: These questions, along with the answers of Mason and Sam, were composed pre-today’s trade. Our bad… meant to get this 3-on-3 up sooner. Things got crazy. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) With the trade deadline rapidly approaching (or past), which Wizard would you have most liked to see not with the team for tonight’s game against the Hornets? JaVale Mcgee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche, the three longest-tenured WizKids, were the names that most commonly were thrown into the rumor mill. Keeping in mind likely trade values and contract situations, which player’s departure would ultimately benefit Washington the most?
GINSBERG: It depends on your definition of “help.” For the long-term, help is whatever hurts the team’s performance over the next month or two but helps it next season and beyond. Admittedly, I don’t know much about who has been discussed in trade rumors for the Wizards, but I think if the team can unload Blatche for a half-decent draft pick, they should do it. Until then, the Wizards should be playing him 40 minutes a game to have him fulfill the role us Hornets fans rely on Beasley to fill in Minnesota. That role, of course, is an inefficient chucker who stops all ball movement on offense.
PERMUTT: The easy answer would be ‘Dray. Wizards fans have completely cast him out, booing him even when he’s not particularly terrible. The smart answer, sadly, is JaVale. He has taken huge steps backward this season, pouting and making silly plays instead of playing hard and making silly plays. The league-wide interest for Blatche is almost non-existent, and the Wizards can amnesty him at year’s end. JaVale, on the other hand, is still likely coveted by several teams across the league, and Washington could get a decent haul for him.
WEIDIE: Easy, Blatche. Young’s departure was only a matter of time (via unrestricted free agency this summer)…. and I could probably care less if the Wizards got Brian Cook and a second round pick in return (even if it is the Hornets’ second rounder in 2015 — I suppose it will be a nice asset to throw in a trade for the hell of it sometime in the future). And McGee? Well, I’m not a fan of giving up on his physical potential, although, evidently the Wizards franchise, which has a much more in-depth view of McGee’s personality, were ready to give up on the lacking mental development. So there’s that. But Blatche (and yes, I have the foresight of hindsight in that I’m the only one on this 3-on-3 answering pre-trade questions with post-trade answers), I’m pretty much of the opinion that the team should find a way to keep him at home, instead of on the court, for the rest of the season.
#2) The Hornets are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Lakers, while the Wizards come in to town with more rest, but no momentum (losers of three in a row). Does either team come out playing scrappy, energetic, hard-nosed basketball in what could be a very winnable game for two often-losing squads? Or does this just end up being an unwatchable game between bad teams?
GINSBERG: After sitting through Monday night’s debacle against the Bobcats, I don’t think anything tonight could be quite as unwatchable. That being said, I could easily see the Hornets coming out flat in this one after that tough break in OT last night. This game likely won’t be pretty, but it won’t be epically awful either. It should be a close one, though, with me being perfectly okay with trading a loss for more ping pong balls in May.
PERMUTT: The Wizards will come out totally ready, and should set the tone with one of the hardest-working performances we’ve seen from them all year. Not only are they hungry for a win against a team that they know they can beat, but the settling of the trade rumors should allow them to focus and relish the opportunity to be playing with their teammates. Expect Wall & Co. to jump all over a tired Hornets team.
WEIDIE: Is Andray Blatche still on the Wizards? There’s your answer. Had the Wizards made zero trades, I would have expected the pre-trade, checked-out demeanor of Young, Blatche, and to a lesser extent McGee, to manifest itself into grossly uninspired play. With Blatche still present, and likely to receive a lot of time due to the sudden unavailability of McGee and Turiaf (who was active from injury for the first time in two months against Dallas on Tuesday), along with the unavailability of Nene of course, the game likely will be as unavoidably sloppy as if no trades ever happened.
#3) On the day the madness really begins (NCAA tournament), the talk around basketball has mostly centered on college hoops. How competitive would the top college teams be with either the Wizards or the Hornets? If they were entered into the field of 64, what would their chances of winning the thing be? And who would ultimately do better, Washington or New Orleans?
GINSBERG: Both the Hornets and Wizards would wipe the floor with NCAA competition. Four of the players on the second unit for the western conference-worst Hornets – Vasquez, Henry, Aminu, and Foote – had PERs over 20 in each of their final seasons with their college teams. Practically every NBA player was a key piece of his college team, whereas even some of the best college teams don’t have more than three or four eventual NBA-caliber players. That doesn’t even take into account the conditioning and endurance disparity between NBA players (who do nothing but play basketball) and NCAA players (who have to, you know, go to class and stuff). The inevitable result of this scenario is a Hornets vs. Wizards NCAA tourney championship.
PERMUTT: Both teams would be the favorites to win. NBA players are scary good, and also have huge size advantages over almost every college team. However, the NCAA tournament is all about momentum, and the Wizards and Hornets are two teams who have none. Would they be able to flip the switch and start playing like the best team in the field? Ultimately, the Hornets might fare better in the tourney, with experienced point guard Jarret Jack leading a more methodical offense better suited to the college game.
WEIDIE: I’ve seen people say, “If you don’t think Kentucky [or insert great college team] can beat the Wizards [or insert crappy NBA team]…” However that sentence usually ends (presumably in favor of the NBA team losing) is hogwash. The last guy on an NBA team would be all-league for just about any team from a power conference; any NBA team, even the worst, simply has too much experience, along with maturity of physique, for any college team to complete. That being said, if you’re talking NCAA 64, and assuming the Wizards and Hornets would be playing by college rules, it isn’t outlandish to think that within that tournament platform there could be close games. Both the Wizards and the Hornets make the final game, the winner essentially amounting to a coin flip (pre- or post-today’s trade).